Mimesis: imagining the evolution of leaf mimicry in insects during the Anthropocene
first began when I became fascinated by the cryptic camouflage of insects and the environmentally activated changes of many invertebrate species. I started to think about how human actions may alter evolution, as observed in peppered moth populations when air pollution in industrial cities resulted in darker coloured moths becoming dominant. Later I came across the work of knowledge artist Cornelia Hesse-Honegger who made extensive field studies of mutations in invertebrates observed in the Chernobyl nuclear fallout zone. I found this project to be both beautiful and chilling.
With all this in mind, I decided to make photographic works as a way to imagine and explore mutation in insects. I began experimenting with photographs of fallen and decaying leaves to see what new species of leaf insects might evolve as a result of my manipulations. The image Musca sp. is one of those early experiments.
In 2018, my home county of Northumberland had one of the hottest and driest summers on record. Local flora was severely impacted by this weather. Sycamore and Cherry trees suffered, their leaves withering on branches and falling off completely by July. This motivated me to revisit the Mimesis project with urgency, to imagine how insects might respond to changes in the plants within their habitats, and how the insects might evolve to camouflage themselves in this changing environment.
Jose Snook was brought up in the Cheviots in rural Northumberland.
She left the hills of her homeland to study for a bachelor of science (Honours) in zoology at Sheffield University. After realising it was unlikely she’d ever be invited to become David Attenborough’s assistant, she rediscovered her love for art and started working with young people to help them develop and celebrate their own creativity.
Jose earned a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Leeds and then returned to Northumberland. She began to concentrate upon her photographic practice six years ago. Driven by her intense curiosity and aided by her obsessive nature, her personal and commissioned work explores two broad themes: memory and personal narratives, plus personal and human relationships to the natural world.
Jose’s photographic work has been shown in solo and group shows in Northumberland, Tyneside, London, Cumbria, South Yorkshire, and the USA. Her sound art has been installed in Cumbria and continues to tour Australia. She has received a number of awards for her photography, including a Silver Gilt medal received in 2017 from the Royal Horticultural Society for her portfolio from The Glass House project.
Her practice involves text, digital visual art, printmaking, and sound. Jose is also one half of a duo that creates electronic, ambient, and experimental music. She continues to work as a freelance creative practitioner, educator, and community arts project manager.